The world of commerce is shifting— the market for digitally-native and direct-to-consumer brands is growing exponentially, and so are consumer demands for cause marketing. In recent years, consumer expectations for brands to engage with societal issues has steadily increased, which is leaving brands with the dilemma of understanding how to navigate the world of conscious commerce.
It’s no longer enough for brands to stand on the sides or make blanket statements about pressing issues. Today’s socially conscious consumers are expecting their favorite brands to step up and take action. But why? 53% of consumers actually believe that brands can do more to solve societal problems than governments, which means that cause marketing is quickly becoming a need-to-have for brands wanting to stay competitive.
Luckily, doing good for society while doing well for business go hand-in-hand. As more consumers begin to buy with their values, engaging in cause marketing can help brands attract socially conscious consumers, build stronger customer loyalty, and drive more conversions for their business.
In this post, we’ll cover:
- The current state of social impact and why it’s important for BigCommerce brands
- Tips for creating authentic cause marketing strategies that align with your brand values
- How to leverage email and SMS strategies in your cause marketing campaigns
The State of Social Impact in Commerce Today
For brands who are new to the social impact space, the best place to start is with your brand values. Understanding what’s important to your company can help create more meaningful and authentic synergy between your brand and your customers. Here’s some questions to consider to help you get started:
- What does my brand value?
- What do our customers value?
- What causes are correlated with those values?
- Are there impact-focused initiatives around these values that my brand can get involved with?
A Winning Strategy is Centered Around Authenticity
While consumers want brands to get involved in social impact, it’s easy to identify inauthenticity. Similar to greenwashing, it’s ineffective to make a statement or capitalize on a social movement without having tangible action behind it.
If your brand is choosing to launch a Pride collection for Pride Month, for example, collaborate with an LGBTQ+ designer to curate the products, feature LGBTQ+ models for the campaign, or even donate a portion of proceeds to an organization that is fighting for equality and providing support to the LGBTQ+ community. Sticking a rainbow on a product isn’t enough to show genuine support for the cause, and these are all great examples of ways that brands can do more.
You can then leverage an email marketing strategy to share your cause marketing campaign with your customers. Email marketing is a great way to tell a story of your brand’s cause marketing efforts and invite your customers to be part of the initiative.
Whether in a welcome series or an announcement email, sharing details into your brand’s involvement with a social cause can give your customers a better understanding of who your brand is and what you value. It can even help to build more brand trust for your customers!
Don’t Get Caught Up in “Cancel Culture”
Consumers are also not afraid to call out brands for inauthenticity and 66% of Americans say even if they love a company’s products or services, they will still cancel that company if it does something wrong or offensive. This means that brands need to be mindful of what cause marketing initiatives they get involved in and are conscious of the message they are sending.
An example of a cause marketing campaign gone wrong is the ‘Live for Now — Moments’ campaign with Pepsi and Kendall Jenner. The campaign was created as an attempt to showcase Pepsi as a Millennial-friendly brand with a socially relevant and unifying message, but was received negatively by consumers. People felt that the ad was co-opting protest movements like Black Lives Matter, for commercial gain. As a result, Pepsi had to pull the advertisement off the air.
To leave a more positive message with your customers around your involvement with a social cause, you can integrate impact-focused messaging into your SMS marketing strategy. Instead of promoting a sale or product launch on their own, you can combine these announcements with information about your brand’s commitment to a cause, and provide a link in the message for your customers to visit your website and learn more.
As an example, you may be launching a new product line made out of recycled materials for Earth Day and want to share the announcement with your customers through SMS. To make the message more impactful, you could include language like, “Our new Earth Day collection looks good while doing good. We’re donating 10% to support One Tree Planted when you purchase from the Earth Day collection. Shop Now”.
4 Steps to Get Started With Cause Marketing
Now that you have a better understanding of why cause marketing is important for business and the current state of consumer demand, it’s time to explore actionable strategies and tactics that you can use to integrate cause marketing campaigns throughout your BigCommerce business.
1. Do Your Research
The first step to get started with cause marketing is to do your research. Before diving into a social impact initiative, get a better understanding of what you and your customers value and identify ways that your brand can get involved.
Doing research might include connecting with stakeholders, hosting brainstorming sessions with your internal team, or even surveying and polling your target customers through email, SMS, or social media.
Once you’ve identified your cause marketing initiatives, you need to set goals to ensure that the campaign is a success!
- By participating in a cause marketing campaign, what do you hope to accomplish?
- If you are choosing to engage in charitable giving, how much do you want to donate by the end of the campaign?
- If you’re offering your employees volunteer opportunities, how many volunteer hours are you committing to?
As you progress through your campaign, you can keep your community and customers involved by sharing campaign updates via email and SMS marketing channels. These present a great channel to share the amount of funds that you’ve raised up to a certain point or volunteer hours your team has completed so far.
As an example, you may be making charitable donations when your customers make a purchase from your website, and have a goal to raise $10,000 for a nonprofit organization through the campaign. You can call attention to your efforts by sending an email to your customers that shares your donation progress so far, and encourages your customers to visit your website to make a purchase and support the campaign.
Or, if you are advocating for a social cause and are focused on spreading awareness around the cause, you can use SMS marketing to send your customers a message with links to access resources on ways that they can get involved in the cause as well.
3. Form Partnerships
One of the best ways to create a successful cause marketing campaign is to form impactful partnerships. Whether you want to partner with a nonprofit organization or collaborate with another brand who is supporting the same cause, creating a community around a cause can help to create an even larger impact.
Once you’ve created a partnership that makes sense for your brand and for your campaign, you can share details into the collaboration with your customers through an announcement email. To help your customers understand the purpose of the partnership, you can share information about the organization or brand you’re partnering with, what the partnership means, and share your goals of the campaign.
This is an easy and impactful way to get your customers excited about your cause marketing campaign while showing your authentic commitment to the cause.
4. Leverage Email and SMS Strategies
Email and SMS marketing are powerful strategies for connecting and engaging with your customers, and can create even more meaningful interactions when paired with cause marketing initiatives. Let’s dive into some tactics for email and SMS that you can use to ensure your cause marketing campaigns are a success.
1. Welcome emails
A welcome email is one of the first impressions you will make with new customers, so you want to make sure that the message resonates positively with them. Introducing your customers to your brand while highlighting your cause marketing campaigns is a great way to kick off a new relationship on the right foot.
2. Cart abandonment emails
The average cart abandonment rate across all industries is just under 70%. This means that 7 out of 10 customers may leave your website without completing the purchase process. Cart abandonment emails can be a powerful tactic to encourage your customers to return back to your website and complete their purchase.
Many consumers are familiar with emails that create a sense of urgency, whether it being for a limited time discount or a reminder that items in their cart are selling out quickly. Think about how much more impactful these emails can be when paired with an impact-focused message.
If you are donating a portion of proceeds from online sales, you can send a message to your customers with a reminder that by placing an order, your brand will make a donation to a nonprofit organization. The reminder of the opportunity to do good can help encourage customers to come back to your website to complete the purchase process.
3. Re-engagement emails
You most likely have a list of customers who have not placed an order for an extended period of time, and re-engagement emails are a great way to get your brand in front of them. For customers who may not have engaged with your brand since you began your cause marketing campaign, you can include information about your new initiative and encourage them to visit your website to learn more.
4. Promotional emails
Instead of sending a promotional email that’s dedicated to a new product launch or a flash sale, you can send an email that’s dedicated to bringing awareness to your cause marketing efforts. This is a great way to announce your new campaign and get your customers excited about your social impact efforts.
If you have a dedicated page on your website that explains the campaign more in-depth, you can link to this page from the email and encourage your customers to learn more about how your brand is making an impact.
5. Email footers
To keep a consistent reminder of your cause marketing campaign, an email footer is a great way to highlight your efforts while not taking away from the main message of the email you’re sending. Not every email you send needs to have information around your cause marketing campaign, but having a reminder at the end of each email can show your authentic commitment to the cause and serve as a constant reminder to your customers that you value making a difference.
1. Product launches
When launching a new collection, a great way to announce it to your customers is through SMS marketing. The excitement of new collections to explore can help to bring your customers to your website to browse through your products and make a purchase.
If you are collaborating with an influencer on the launch of the collection, you can highlight a shared social cause through the campaign to inform both your customers and the influencer’s followers of your cause marketing campaign. This could include a commitment to ethically sourcing materials, using recycled fibers to become more sustainable, or even advocating for equal rights.
No matter the cause, coupling impact-focused messaging with your product launches or announcement messages is an effective way to create more engaging and impactful moments with your customers.
2. Flash sales
58% of consumers believe that SMS is the most effective way for brand communication, which means that sharing the news of a flash sale via SMS can yield high engagement rates from your customers. Similar to a flash sale, you could offer a flash giving event, where your brand increases donation amounts for a 24-hour event, creating urgency for your customers to visit your website and make a purchase.
You could even give your customers the option to choose between a discount or creating a charitable donation with their purchase, pledged by your brand. In this scenario, you could use language like, “Flash sale or flash giving, the choice is yours! Pick a 10% discount or a 10% donation at checkout. Offer ends Sunday”.
3. Educational messages
Education-focused SMS messages are an effective way to share product information, tips and tricks, and even style inspiration. These types of messages are also a great way to educate your customers on social causes.
If your brand is partnering with Feeding America, for example, you can send your customers a message that says, “More than 38 million Americans face food insecurity every day. We’re partnering with Feeding America to fight the hunger crisis and provide meals to those in need. Learn more”.
This tactic is an easy way to educate your customers about the problem that your brand is focused on and shares information on how you’re making an impact.
How a BigCommerce Brand, Natori, is Using Email Marketing to Drive Revenue
Natori is a 45-year-old design house with East-meets-West collections that is committed to giving back. Whether supporting Covid-19 relief at the height of the pandemic, the Stop Asian Hate Movement, International Day of the Girl, and many others, Natori is a brand that is at the forefront of social impact.
For GivingTuesday in 2021, Natori shared that they would be donating 20% of every order to the cause of their customer’s choice through a marketing email.
Within the email, Natori created unique links for the four nonprofits they were choosing to support. When clicked, the links would take the customer directly to Natori’s website with that specific nonprofit set to be supported on the purchase.
From the email, Natori also shared a “how-to” for their customers to understand how to search and select a different cause or nonprofit to support with their purchase if they didn’t want to support one of the nonprofits that Natori was highlighting for the campaign.
After sending the GivingTuesday email, Natori saw a 2,500x growth in revenue compared to their other emails that were sent during the same time period. Since Natori has impact built into the DNA of their company, their customers are highly engaged with their impact efforts and know that when they shop with Natori, they’re helping to support a charitable cause.
Begin Creating Successful Cause Marketing Campaigns with Email and SMS Strategies
With the growing demand for social impact from socially conscious consumers, there’s no better time to get started with a cause marketing campaign than now. By integrating impact-focused messaging into your already existing email and SMS strategies, you can ensure that your brand runs a successful campaign that not only performs well, but that also engages your target customers to create more meaningful relationships.
To keep up with consumer demand for social impact, you can get a roadmap on how forward-thinking companies can use insights from the latest social impact trends to compete and thrive in today’s marketplace from The State of Social Impact Report.